Jan 16 2017

STORMONT’S “CASH FOR ASH” SCANDAL – continued

 Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness has announced that that he is stepping down as Stormont’s Depute First Minister. This move has been taken to precipitate an election in the face of the DUP First Minister, Arlene Foster’s role in the  “Cash for Ash” scandal. McGuinness’s decision has been taken with great reluctance, since it puts into question Sinn Fein’s proclaimed strategy of sustaining the post-Good Friday Agreement institutions on the path to a united Ireland. As a consequence, in order to maintain Stromont’s constitutionally entrenched sectarian set-up, workers and nationalists have been asked to make bigger and bigger sacrifices. These have accentuated by the wider global economic crisis and the ongoing political crisis facing the UK state, in the aftermath of the Scottish independence and Brexit referenda. 

Socialist Democracy (Ireland) posted this article just before McGuinness’s resignation, as a follow up to an earlier piece, which we have already posted (http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2016/12/17/stormont-executive-backrolls-loyalism/).

IMPUNITY – BUT AT A PRICE

Martin McGuinness announces his resignation as Stormont’s Depute First Minister

The facts of the latest scandal to hit the administration in the North of Ireland are easily stated. An energy saving scheme (the Renewable Heating Scheme or RHI) devolved from the British Treasury, spun out of control and ran up liabilities of almost £500 million. The costs arose in two phases. In the first phase cost controls were removed and the subsidy was greater than the cost of the fuel. In the second phase closure was delayed while hundreds of those in the know piled in to get a share of the free money.  The person who signed off on the scheme as relevant minister was Arlene Foster. The person in charge as First Minister when the costs ballooned out of control was Arlene Foster.
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Mar 02 2016

THE UK STATE AND BRITISHNESS

 

This article, written by Allan Armstrong (RCN) in 2015, has now been updated to include a new section 3 on Scotland. It has been moved from its earlier site.

Section A –  The UK State and Britishness

Section B –  From the Irish-British and ‘Ulster’-British ‘Insider’ to the Irish ‘Racialised’ and ‘Ethno-Religious Outsider’ to the new ‘National Outsider’

Section C – Britishness, the UK State, Unionism, Scotland and the ‘National Outsider’ 

 

A. THE UK STATE AND BRITISHNESS

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Introduction

The purpose of this article is to examine the concept of the national outsider in relation to Britishness, for the people of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. This has been done through the further development of the concept of the outsider used in Satnam Virdee’s significant book Racism, Class and the Racialised Outsider [1]. Here he outlines the creation of the racialised outsider [2]. Mary Davis’ earlier, but also significant, Comrade or Brother? A History of the British Labour Movement (3),  wrote, in effect, about the gendered outsider, without using the term.

The first part of this article will look at the historically changing position of racialised and gendered outsiders in the UK before the second and third parts address the changing position of the national outsider. Here it will be shown how the post-war British Labour government provided widely accepted ‘insider’ Britishness status for those who held hybrid Scottish and Welsh and ‘Ulster’ British identities. This though excluded the Catholic Irish living in Northern Ireland, giving a continued basis for an Irish nationalist politics based on the Irish national outsider. For a brief period in the 1960s the development of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Movement raised the possibility of widening the sectarian nationality-based ‘Ulster’-Britishness to create a new more inclusive Northern Ireland-Britishness, However,  an alliance of the Ulster Unionism, Loyalism and the UK state  thwarted this, leading to the re-emergence of a reinvigorated Irish republicanism, which drew support from those still treated as national outsiders by the UK state.

Furthermore, in the context of a  continued imperial decline of the UK, the 1960s saw the existing Scottish-British and Welsh-British identities becoming more effectively challenged. This led to a prolonged attempt by the liberal wing of the British ruling class to try to democratise these identities within a political framework of Devolution. The failure of the Sunningdale Agreement in the face of reactionary unionism, and the 1979 Scottish and Welsh Devolution Bills through conservative unionist opposition, followed later by the lukewarm liberal unionist nature of the 1997 ‘Devolution-all-round’ settlement, have contributed to the emergence of significant numbers of Scottish and Welsh national outsiders in relation to the UK state, whilst still not fully integrating the previous Irish national outsiders. Today, the apparent inability of the UK state, with its strong conservative unionist, and growing reactionary unionist forces, to sustain a more widely supported political settlement has led considerably greater numbers to reject any notion of ‘Britishness’, particularly in Scotland.

 

1) The notion of ‘outsider’ and ‘toleration’ in relation to the role of the UK state in creating and maintaining Britishness

In some ways the position of black people in the UK from the late eighteenth century, addressed in Virdee’s book, represents an updated version of the toleration that appeared in the early days of capitalist development. This toleration was extended both to religious and ethnic minorities who performed a significant economic role within certain states. Such toleration was found in some city-states, e.g. Venice [4]and then in some mercantile capitalist states, e.g. the Netherlands, England, then the UK. These states produced regulations and developed practices that altered the status of those they tolerated, either for better or worse.
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Feb 24 2015

ROLLING BACK SCOTLAND’S ‘DEMOCRATIC REVOLUTION’

Allan Armstrong (RCN) updates his socialist republican analyses of constitutional developments in the UK and Ireland, in the led up to the May 2015 Westminster election.

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ROLLING BACK SCOTLAND’S ‘DEMOCRATIC REVOLUTION’

1. British unionists and Scottish nationalists attempt to derail Scotland’s ‘democratic revolution’

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There are several important features to the political landscape we can currently see in Scotland and the wider UK. One key feature is the shock that the ‘Yes’ campaign gave to the British ruling class and, in particular, to their representatives in the mainstream unionist parties.

The referendum campaign had conjured up a ‘democratic revolution’, beyond either the control of Westminster or Holyrood. Voter registration was 97% and voter participation was 85%. Scotland experienced a wave of public meetings, canvassing, street stalls and cultural events, along with a huge volume of electronic correspondence and face-to-face conversations throughout the campaigning period.

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Feb 07 2015

STORMONT HOUSE DEAL

Below are two articles from the latest edition of Socialist Democracy (Ireland). They provide an account and analysis of the Stormont House Deal between the UK government and the DUP/Sinn Fein coalition in Stormont over the implementation of Westminster imposed cuts, against the background of threats to stand down Stormont.   (http://www.socialistdemocracy.org/Bulletins/SDBulletinJan2015StormontHouseDeal.html and www.socialistdemocracy.org/Bulletins/SDBulletinJan2015SectarianismAndAusterityTwinPillarsOfReaction.html)

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1. STORMONT HOUSE DEAL – Twin hammers to smash the workers

There is no disguising the calamity facing workers in the North. Benefits for the poor and sick are to be slashed. Thousands of public sector jobs are to go and the services themselves cut back. Public resources are to be auctioned off. The plan means terrible suffering – much greater than that in Britain because it will be applied in a shorter timescale in a situation where there is little local industry and levels of poverty are already very high.

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Sep 25 2014

TWO ARTICLES ON NORTHERN IRELAND

Category: Against Unionism,IrelandRCN @ 2:34 pm

 We are printing two articles from the Socialist Democracy (Ireland) website examining aspects of politics in Northern Ireland:- 

1. Peter Robinson repudiates peace deal. Another step towards the abyss.

2. Paisley, the chief bigot is dead. The sectarian state lives on.

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1. PETER ROBINSON REPUDIATES THE PEACE DEAL. ANOTHER STEP TOWARDS THE ABYSS

Peter Robinson shows his wholehearted support for the Peace Process!

Peter Robinson shows his wholehearted support for the Peace Process!

 

The statement by the North’s first minister Peter Robinson that the local administration is “not fit for purpose” and that the St. Andrew ‘s agreement, on which the current settlement rests, must be renegotiated has brought cries of horror from the press and from London and Dublin governments who have been accommodating an accelerating slide to the right by unionism.

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Aug 10 2014

THE FURTHER DECLINE OF THE ‘NEW UNIONIST’ SETTLEMENT IN NORTHERN IRELAND

In the following two articles from Socialist Democracy (Ireland), John McAnulty of chronicles the further decline of the ‘New Unionist’ settlement in Northern Ireland.

 

1) ON THE RUNS – CONCESSIONS TO SINN FEIN WERE MERE SMOKE AND MIRRORS

Lady Justice Hallet, author of 'On the Runs'

Lady Justice Hallet, author of ‘On the Runs’

 

When Baroness Elizabeth Butler-Sloss was nominated to head an enquiry into child sexual abuse by leading politicians, there was an outcry that objected to her on the grounds of her position within the establishment. The victims objected to a “safe pair of hands” guiding the enquiry.

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Jun 25 2014

RACISM IN NORTHERN IRELAND BREAKING THE BOUNDS OF LIBERAL OUTRAGE

Below E&L has posted a leaflet distributed by Socialist Democracy  (Ireland) at an anti-racist rally in Belfast on 7th June.This was produced in response to Northern Ireland First Minster, Peter Robinson of the DUP and the initial support heave to a rabid rant directed against Muslims by a Protestant fundamentalist preacher, James McConnell.

 

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Anti-racist rally in Belfast to protest against Peter Robinson’s initial backing for James McConnell

 

 

Racism: Break the bounds of liberal outrage!

The sectarian state sponsors racism

Peter Robinson’s public “apology” to local Muslims for any offence that was caused by his comments on Islam and Muslims may have taken the heat of the racist controversy that has been raging over the last couple of weeks.  However, it has not changed the nature of the society or of the political system that generated it.

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Mar 13 2014

SINN FEIN ON THE RUN AS SETTLEMENT SLIPS FURTHER TO THE RIGHT

 

After the demise of the Haas Talks, the Unionists, playing to the Loyalist gallery,  are pushing even further to unravel the original Good Friday Agreement. In this article, John McAnulty of Socialist Democracy (Ireland) explains the significance of the latest ‘on-the-runs’  issue.

 

John Downey received a letter from the police giving him immunity from prosecution as part of the original 'Peace settlement'

John Downey received a letter from the police giving him immunity from prosecution as part of the original ‘peace settlement’

 

Another week, another crisis. The Irish peace process continues to have popular support (or at least widespread public indifference), but its internal contradictions see it constantly spiral out of control. It is clear that Peter Robinson’s threat to resign as First Minister marks a new stage in the decay of the Irish settlement.

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Dec 19 2013

UNIONISM PUSHES THE IRISH ‘PEACE PROCESS’ FURTHER TO THE SECTARIAN RIGHT

Below are three articles from the Socialist Democracy (Ireland) website highlighting the role of Loyalism and mainstream Ulster Unionism, aided by the UK government in pushing the Good Friday Agreement  further to the sectarian right. Underscoring the UK state’s own declining imperial role, Richard Haas, the unofficial US representative has been drawn in to help them.

These articles also highlight the role of the Catholic Church and middle class, who go along with this, in return for  official state recognition and their cut of  state backed sectarian funding and job allocation. Sinn Fein, in its adopted role of making the UK-state brokered settlement work, is is central to this process  too. The last article also highlights the methods the UK state  is prepared to resort to, whenever it feels threatened.

 

1. HAAS TALKS DEBACLE – Decay of the Irish Peace Process accelerates

Gerry Adams and Gerry Kelly, Sinn Fein, look disconsolate after the collapse of the Haas Talks.

Gerry Adams and Gerry Kelly, Sinn Fein, look disconsolate after the collapse of the Haas Talks.

 

The debacle of the Haass talks collapse, on the early morning of New Year’s Eve, marked a growing instability in local political structures. The talks were supposed to settle conflicts in the Irish peace process and their outcome was somewhat obscured by a persistent failure to tell Irish workers anything about their contents and by a torrent of lies from the British and Irish media, talking the negotiations up while the talks were ongoing and suggesting after the fall that the collapse contained elements of progress.

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Sep 26 2013

HAAS TALKS: THE ILLUSION OF A PROGRESSIVE ROLE FOR IMPERIALISM

We are posting two articles from the Socialist Democracy (Ireland) website.  The first addresses the current Haas Talks concerning the growing Loyalist challenges  to the Peace Process in Northern Ireland. The second highlights Peter Robinson’s sectarianism and capitulation to Loyalist base, something Haas, the British and Irish governments will accept.

 

1. THE HAAS TALKS

US envoy, Richard Haass,with Peter Robinson (DUP) and Martin McGuiness (Sinn Fein)

US envoy, Richard Haas,with Peter Robinson (DUP) and Martin McGuiness (Sinn Fein)

 

The Haas talks, which have just commenced in Belfast, are promoted as an effort to get a comprehensive agreement on the issues causing divisions between the parties in the north.   These are listed on the official agenda for the talks as “dealing with parades, dealing with flags and emblems, dealing with the legacy of the past”.  It is expected that a report recommending a mechanism to deal with these issues will be produced by the end of the year.
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